Highlights: March MAC Meeting

Opening Comments from the Dean
David S. Wilkes, MD

  • Dean Wilkes highlighted three individuals who received distinguished recognition:
    • B. Cameron Webb, MD, JD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, was recognized by the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Minority Quality Forum as one of the “40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health.”
    • Pamela Sutton-Wallace, Medical Center CEO, was among the “Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare 2018” identified by Modern Healthcare.
    • Richard Baylis, MD/PhD student in Gary Owens’ lab, is among 600 students worldwide selected to attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. He will have the opportunity to meet and talk science with 43 Nobel Laureates.
  • IT Security Upgrade
    • The recent upgrade was made with the primary purpose of addressing urgent needs to ensure patient data is safe. This has brought about some unintended outcomes, such as variable access to programs and files resulting in work-arounds. The dean reminded people that Health System shared drives (e.g., “Y”) can be used for sharing or storing information, including PHI. Non-confidential information can be shared via UVA Box or Collab. Call the Help Desk at 434.924.5334 if you are having trouble accessing programs or files. We will have another update at the April MAC.

Funding Analysis/NIH Rankings
Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD

  • Dr. Shupnik showed a chart of funding over a 10-year period and noted that total funding is up and we are diversifying our portfolio. There has been a big increase in successful non-modular grants.
  • The NIH ranking contains all awards – new, renewed, non-competitive continuations, and supplements of all types of awards. It includes all subcontracts if the PI is at UVA and does not include NIH subcontracts received from other institutions.
  • There is considerable volatility of dollars awarded among the rankings of 35-45 and one grant has the potential to bring about an increase or a decrease in the rankings.
  • Dr. Shupnik’s analysis shows that we have many fewer P and U grants than other institutions and this appears to be the primary factor in our ranking not being higher. These awards enable scientists to do the kind of work that one person cannot do alone, and they bring more than funds – they also bring impact and status within the scientific community and provide infrastructure and administrative support.
  • Resources are available – ResearchNet, the Conafay Group – at the institutional level, in addition to department resources such as pre-submission grant review. ResearchNet can provide some shared SOM/VPR support for complicated team/center proposal submissions.
  • NIH rankings information is at http://www.brimr.org/NIH_Awards/NIH_Awards.htm.

On the Path to Academic Success
Susan M. Pollart, MD

  • Annual reviews, which are required for every faculty member, are especially important for faculty at the end of their first three years. For tenure eligible faculty members, it is important to realistically assess potential for the first promotion. For tenure ineligible faculty, the appointment after the third year of employment must be for three years. Regardless of tenure eligibility, faculty members not meeting expectations at the end of the third year of employment can be given a one year notice of non-renewal.
  • Promotion and Tenure
    • New guidelines provide updated/clarified guidelines regarding criteria for excellence in team science.
    • Dean Wilkes is sending the SOM P&T Committee’s specific recommendations to individual faculty members (promoted on July 1, 2017) who are eligible for further advancement (i.e. tenured associate professors, tenure eligible associate professors, and tenure ineligible associate professors). These recommendations identify areas to recommended focus to help ensure success in their next advancement.

Health System Financial Overview
Douglas Lischke, Chief Accounting Officer

  • Mr. Lischke provided an update of the consolidated Health System financials.

Health System Board Update
A. Bobby Chhabra, MD

Dr. Chhabra shared highlights from the February 28, 2017, HSB meeting. The HS goals dashboard for FY18 showed strong performance with eight out of twelve indicators green.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in the BIMS Classroom.

Act Now: Addressing Opioid Addiction


This semester the School of Medicine and colleagues across Grounds are gathering for a series of discussion groups with faculty who are interested in doing research related to substance misuse and addiction, particularly involving opioids. This is a great moment of opportunity for our School as in December 2017 the Board of Visitors approved Strategic Investment Funds (SIF) for “Reducing the Burden of Addictions in Virginia.” Our goal is to use this initiative as a stepping stone for more collaborative activities across Grounds.

On January 25, 25 faculty from across the University, representing 17 different departments, institutes, and units, gathered for the first meeting.* The meeting included presentations on structure and funding opportunities; preventing opioid misuse; limiting the supply of opioids and advancing pain management; treating opioid-addicted individuals; and the legal, policy, and economic implications of the epidemic.

Discussion included:

  • whether this crisis was, at its foundation, about pain and its treatment;
  • while there is a need for basic neurological research regarding pain, the crisis is about more than physical pain;
  • the larger social and historic context of substance abuse; and
  • questions regarding how to prevent or reduce the harms associated with substance misuse and addiction, particularly to opioids.

After the 90-minute session, the group’s recommendation was to:

  • Develop strategic teams focused on key domains of transdisciplinary research; e.g., preventing addiction, treating addiction (including practice changes), neurobiology of pain, and drug policy.
  • Convene more meetings with stakeholders in these and other domains of transdisciplinary research to generate cohesive research white papers for dissemination to partners and sponsors.
  • Distribute white papers at the Virginia Higher Education Conversation on Opioid Use and Addiction (May 1) and identify prospective partners from across the state and region.
  • Develop and implement additional structures to support transdisciplinary science in these domains, including but not limited to, pre-proposal planning for strategic cross-Grounds applications.

Transdisciplinary collaborations are necessary to prevent or mitigate the effects of opioid misuse and addiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As such, these discussions are ongoing and open to all. It is my hope that you will join the conversation. If you are interested, please contact David Driscoll, PhD, Director of Research Development in the School of Medicine, and a member of the VPR ResearchNet group that develops and participates in large transdisciplinary research projects within their schools and across Grounds.

*Participants represented the Dean’s Office; ResearchNET; Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences; Systems and Information Engineering; General Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Care; the Institute of Law, Psychiatric and Public Policy; Government Relations; the Center for Global Health; Center for Public Health Policy; Anesthesiology; the Brain Institute; the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health; Emergency Medicine;  Anthropology; Public Policy and Economics; and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Gerald D. Aurbach Professor of Endocrinology
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research

UVA Provides MOCA, Not Latte

(l-r) Keith Littlewood, MD; Chuck Stanton; Saimon Malakor; Angel Thompson; Maria Vazquez-Amaral, JD; Vaia Abatzis, MD; and Ira Rubenstein.

Did you know that the University of Virginia School of Medicine is one of the 20 charter sites for physicians to receive their Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA)? Doctors travel to sites across the country for recertification, and here at UVA, they spend a day in the Claude Moore Medical Education Building’s Medical Simulation Center, learning and demonstrating their proficiencies for patient care.

In the 10-year MOCA re-credentialing cycle, anesthesiologists must earn 50 points in their knowledge and skills assessments. By coming to our Simulation Center every five years, doctors can earn 25 points on each single-day visit. It is, by far, the most efficient way of getting those points. We take this seriously and, points aside, strive to provide an enriching learning environment for attendees.

We push them, and we push them hard. The entire day is almost entirely simulation-based. Participants break up into teams and experience simulated patients in crisis situations: cardiovascular instability, hypoxemia, malignant hyperthermia, anesthesia toxicity. The works. Then we add a twist: How do these situations resolve with, say, pregnant patients?

Not every test is an emergency. We also present participants with situations that are common or from which they would benefit from practice, like sepsis. From rare to common to close-calls to abnormal … our Simulation Center provides a variety of learning experiences.

SOM’s MOCA Is More than Recertification
Because no patient is cared for by a single person, the healthcare team’s performance is also evaluated. After each exercise, the team gathers to debrief. I believe this is a crucial part of the experience. The team candidly talks about what happened during in the simulation. They answer the question, “What were you thinking?” in an educational, non-judgmental way. There is a tacit assumption that our participants are smart and provide good care to patients — but, what trap did the team fall into? What were they doing (or not doing) together? We not only care about what occurred to result in the simulated patient receiving a bad outcome, but also what can be done to ensure this does not happen again. It is an opportunity to raise the bar for all attendees.

MOCA is administered through the American Society of Anesthesiology, and they invite participants to take a “customer satisfaction” survey. Feedback on our Sim Center experience has been wonderfully positive. Many physicians are happy to come to our School and receive their recertification in this manner. For us, it’s not just a matter of making sure anesthesiologists have their points and that they can check an item off their to-do list. We take pride that, when participants leave UVA, they feel it was a worthwhile experience. Many leave Grounds feeling that the day spent in our Simulation Center changed the way they think about their practice. That is incredibly rewarding.

Our Simulation Center is excellent and there are many talented people who have contributed mightily to its success, from the moment it was conceived to today. This includes Dr. Marcus Martin, Dr. Mark Kirk, Dr. Vaia Abatzis, Dr. Keith Littlewood, the Claude Moore Foundation, and the faculty and staff who envisioned the NxGen curricula and support the center itself. They have my gratitude and my thanks.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Med Students Partner with Architects to Benefit Patients


The Medical Design Program’s teaching team: (l-r) Program Manager Alex Gregor; Co-director Matt Trowbridge, MD, MPH; and Co-director David Chen, MBA

Last year, I shared with you the design-thinking program for first-year medical students created by Matthew Trowbridge, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Public Health Sciences; David Chen, MBA, Coulter Program Director, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Erik Hewlett, MD, recently retired from his role as Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and International Health; and Program Manager Alex Gregor of the Department of Emergency Medicine. This academic year, the third edition of the course has been a resounding success.

Design-thinking is a creative problem-solving tool, a systematic way of looking at complex challenges, a mindset that teaches how to ask the right questions to tackle the real problem. This program is teaching first-year medical students how to use design thinking to be more effective clinicians and help innovate the next era of patient-centered clinical care.

A core tenet of design-thinking is serving the person for whom you’re designing. Design-thinking does this through a relentless emphasis on developing empathy for the intended user of a new product, service, or other type of innovation. The UVA Medical Design programs adapts these approaches for medical education giving the students structured instruction on interviewing and problem-solving to use as future physicians, whether it is part of their clinical care, while on research teams, or in a leadership role.

The Exercise: Empathizing with Visually Impaired People to Design Healthier Communities
For one of their recent workshops with students, Trowbridge, Chen, and Gregor wanted students to think about empathizing with patients who have different lived experiences than their own. But it had to be more than merely talking about it. How does one not only empathize deeply with a patient, but take action based on that empathy to serve the patient?

They created an exercise that instructed students to walk a path from the Battle Building to the UVA Eye Clinic, and asked them to navigate as if they lost their sight. They were to experience what it was like, the pros and cons of the built environment — the sidewalks, the roads, the signage, the sounds — anything that might help or hinder the progress of a person with visual impairment.

First-year medical students Sean Haughey and Sabrina Swoger partnered to do their fieldwork before the workshop. Describing what motivated him to learn about design thinking and participate in the course, Haughey said he thought, “‘I don’t want to be a doctor who’s resistant to innovation,’ and a great way to start is, in the first year of medical school, going out and joining a group that is looking to innovate as doctors.” Describing the empathy exercise for this workshop, Swoger added, “It is so important to actually experience it … because I have that very visceral sense of emotion tied to it, now I feel so much more motivated to actually solve it. I think that’s key, and I think that’s what we want to identify as doctors and as design thinkers.”

Sabrina Swoger, SMD21, and classmates navigated to UVA clinics while simulating blindness to empathize with visually impaired patients and think about how we might make our hospital — and city — more accessible for patients.

Swoger, Haughey, and the other students in the course captured their findings from this fieldwork, shared that data with designers at Charlottesville-based architecture firm VMDO, and worked with the firm at its downtown studio to brainstorm potential solutions to improve the actual streetscape. It was a wonderful opportunity to show how medical professionals and designers can collaborate to help create healthier and more inclusive communities.

The medical students’ proposals were varied and creative, and ultimately they were all empathetic and aimed to helping our patients in an area where medicine alone was not the answer.

One example that came out of this exercise was the recommendation to install dog-bone-shaped beacons around Grounds and train seeing-eye dogs to locate these beacons. The beacon would release a treat for the dog while providing critical navigational information to the visually impaired person. Additionally, the beacon would recognize who is interacting with it and, perhaps, include personalized information about wayfinding. Some of this may be “magical thinking,” but that kind of ideation is encouraged in the early stages of the iterative design-thinking process, so long as solutions are rooted in a deep understanding of the user’s needs. As a blind person, would it be helpful not just to be able to safely cross the street, but to be told that you are, indeed, on the correct path and that your physician has been notified you’re running a few minutes late and that they are waiting for your arrival? Sounds futuristic, but most certainly a future I’d like to see come to fruition.

An important element of design-thinking is for students not to constrain their initial brainstorming with the practical details of implementation — those are sorted out in later stages of the innovation process — but to think broadly about different ways to meet latent needs that are not being addressed by the status quo. One of the most powerful roles a physician has is to help patients articulate their needs and then work with professionals from diverse fields — such as other clinicians, technologists, designers, architects, engineers, scientists, and others — to create multi-talented project teams with the know-how to address patients’ needs holistically.

SMD21 students Dan Lewis, Aamir Javaid, Deson Haynie, and Oom Pattarabanjird collaborate with architects Rob Winstead and Lauren Shirley of VMDO to map the physical and emotional journey of navigating to UVA while visually impaired, and to design radical new ways to improve that experience.

Allowing Scientists to Dream
We know that the grand challenges of healthcare are changing fundamentally and that the big problems tend to be systems problems. No single discipline can hope to tackle them alone. Design thinking helps our medical students address these challenges. The VMDO workshop showed them how a physician can dream big and partner with other disciplines to create better built environments and healthcare systems for patients.

The goal here is not to turn medical students into architects, but to be world-class collaborators with other skilled professionals. And it’s working. Previous classes have reported back that they are using their design-thinking skills in summer projects with the UVA-Guatemala Initiative, in Ghana with support from the Center for Global Health, with the Medical Student Summer Research Program at UVA, and on other projects. Students have also noted that training in design thinking has increased creativity in their process for developing basic-science hypotheses. One student combined design thinking and a maker mentality in collaboration with an orthopedic faculty member to 3D print a new type of teaching model, based on imaging of patient’s joints, for orthopedists to learn a procedure that is not frequently performed.

Trowbridge, Chen, and Gregor are working on scaling up the class to provide access to more students. To that end, I am happy to share that the design-thinking program recently received a second funding award from the School of Medicine Curriculum Committee as part of its Education Fellowship program for a new initiative to develop online workshop modules that will extend access of design thinking learning opportunities, such as the one with VMDO, to a broader range of UVA students.

Congratulations to Matt, David, and Alex for their hard work on bringing this cutting-edge pedagogy to our school, and to our students, who are the real drivers of its success. Thanks as well to Rob Winstead and his team of world-class architects at VMDO for partnering with UVA to offer such a great learning opportunity to our students.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

iCan. Can You?

A few months ago, we discussed the development of VMED, an integrated learning-, curriculum-, and student-management system. The development team is still working on the first iteration of the product, which we hope to have available in the summer to test.

Related to VMED is the Interactive Clinical Assessment Navigator (iCan), a tool through which we can assess entrustable professional activities (EPA). EPAs cover basic skills a physician should have, such as taking a patient history, documenting an encounter, performing basic procedures, collaborating as part of an interprofessional team, and interpreting lab values. In terms of use, we have seen dramatic expansion of iCan’s use in the past few months. It was first implemented in part of the clerkship class, then moved to all of SMD19, and is now also being used by SMD20. By the fall, SMD21 and SMD22 will be using it as well. It’s exciting to see a product we developed being implemented so widely and quickly.

But this is about more than a new tool and who is using it. This is about using the lean methodology and continuous process improvement to make our systems better. Better for faculty and better for students. It’s about asking, “Is this the best way to assess our students’ clinical performance?” If it’s not, we stop the process and collaborate to find a solution. The key word here is “continuous.” There’s no finish line in our improvement journey.

iCan is a part of the larger VMED system and, thus far, has been well received. The team is continuing to meet with system leaders, clerkship directors and coordinators, faculty, and staff to discuss what to expect from iCan and to understand how it will help facilitate preparation for the next academic year.

I offer my thanks to Maryellen Gusic, MD, who has been a champion for EPAs and iCan, and is one of the reasons its expansion across the cohorts of students is going so well. For more information on VMED — a timeline, progress dashboard, and other documentation — visit the website here. If you have questions, please contact Kim Holman. Keep an eye on the Dean’s Office Blog in June for the next VMED update.

R.J. Canterbury, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Education
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor

Making Virginia Medicine Better: (l-r) Dr. Megan Bray, Dr. Mary Kate Worden, Kim Holman, Dr. Maryellen Gusic, Robert Pastor, Dr. Randolph Canterbury, and Mark Moody.

Come Celebrate Medical Education!


Many medical schools around the country celebrate education by holding a Medical Education Day. Here at UVA, a single day cannot do it justice. As such, every year we have a full week dedicated to medical education. This year, Medical Education Week will run from March 12-16.

We have many educators at the School of Medicine who work tirelessly all year long to accomplish the goals of our educational mission. Medical Education Week is a great opportunity to put a spotlight on the work our faculty, residents, and students do to innovate in medical education.

The week is co-sponsored with the Brodie Medical Education Fund, which annually supports an internationally known speaker in medical education. This year we welcome Dr. Elizabeth Gaufberg from Harvard Medical School to discuss “assumptions we bring to learning and practice.”

Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect this year:

March 12 – 16: Poster Session
Posters will be on display outside the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.

March 13: Medical Education Research Presentations
Noon – 1 p.m. | G1/G2 Pinn Hall Conference Center
Lunch will be available; register here.

  • Noon – 12:30 p.m.: Processed EEG indices correlate with NASA-TLX Measurements of Cognitive Load by Drs. John Kwock, Ali Kazemi, Noah Schenkman, and Keith Littlewood (presenter)
  • 12:30-1  p.m.: Does wisdom protect against depersonalization among medical students? by Drs. John Schorling, Peggy Plews-Ogan, Rachel Kon, Tabor Flickinger (presenters), and Justine Owens

March 14 | The Brodie Medical Education Lecture/Medical Grand Rounds/Medical Center Hour
Noon – 1 p.m. | Pinn Hall Conference Center Auditorium
What We See, What We Feel, What We Say — Exploring Assumptions We Bring to Learning and Practice | Presented by Elizabeth H. Gaufberg, MD, MPH, Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge MA; and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

March 14 | Medical Education Week Reception
5 p.m. – 7 p.m. | Claude Moore Health Sciences Library (2nd floor)
Poster presentations (presenters available from 5-6 p.m.); remarks by Dean David Wilkes and Dr. Gaufberg at 6 p.m.

March 15 | Medical Education Research Presentations
Noon – 1 p.m. | G1/G2 Pinn Hall Conference Center
Lunch will be available; register here.

  • Noon – 12:30 p.m.: Learning curves for robotic surgery fundamentals among novices, by Drs. Yinin Hu, Helen Kim (presenter), Philip Smith, Peter Hallowell, Leigh Cantrell, Noah Schenkman, Sara Rasmussen
  • 12:30 – 1 p.m.: Vessel Ligation Fundamentals: A Comparison of Technical Evaluations by Crowdsourced Nonclinical Personnel and Surgical Faculty, by Drs. Yinin Hu (presenter), Helen Kim, Bo Jiang, Anneke Schroen, Philip Smith, Sara Rasmussen

Thank you to the Brodie committee, the Academy of Distinguished Educators, and all of our faculty, residents, and students who contribute to making this such a successful event.

R.J. Canterbury, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Education
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor

Find Out What They’re Thinking

Want to know what national leaders are thinking? Want to tell them what you’re thinking? Are you interested in becoming known to them and in exploring potential partnerships? Our new speaker series will provide you opportunities to do just this.

On Feb. 22, from noon-1 p.m. in the BIMS Classroom, we will be hosting Joe Selby, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), who will deliver the presentation “Overview and Opportunities from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.” According to its website, PCORI “was established to fund research that can help patients and those who care for them make better-informed decisions about the healthcare choices they face every day, guided by those who will use that information.”

This event is co-sponsored by my office and the Department of Public Health Sciences. Dr. Selby will be available in the afternoon to meet informally with small groups of researchers interested in exploring opportunities for PCORI funding. If interested in participating, please contact Shirley Rothlisberger.

This speaker series will continue later in the year when we will welcome Griffin Rodgers, MD, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), on Sept. 11 (tentative) and Gary Gibbons, MD, Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), on Oct. 22. (I will send out event details when we get close to these dates.)

I am very excited that these leaders are coming to the School of Medicine to speak with us. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about possible emerging funding mechanisms and priorities for the next year, and to have our researchers further strengthen relationships with these national agencies. It is my hope that faculty will introduce themselves — and their research — to Drs. Selby, Rodgers, and Gibbons, and that these discussions will not only be educational for all involved, but will bear fruit in the form of partnerships and collaborations down the road.

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Gerald D. Aurbach Professor of Endocrinology
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research

Highlights: February MAC Meeting

Opening Comments from the Dean
David S. Wilkes, MD

  • The Data Science Institute is exploring the possibility of offering graduate degrees. This will allow us to provide training to people we can then recruit as faculty members.
  • Strategic hires update
    • Since February 2016, we have hired 19 strategic recruits who are bringing an estimated $49.5 million total over five years.
    • Dr. Imre Noth, Division Chief for Pulmonary and Critical Care, is the most recent hire.
    • Currently we have five active recruitments underway with 11 grants totaling $8.1 million over five years.
  • Cyber Security
    • Rick Skinner sent a memo on Sunday, 2/11/18, informing everyone who uses Health System email that upgrades are required to continue to access devices through the VPN. Upgrades must be made by Monday, Feb. 19, or access will be cut off. If you need help, call the Help Desk at 434.924.5334.

Updates from Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development
Susan M. Pollart, MD

  • 360 Feedback to Chairs
    • At the last MAC, there were questions about who can be included in the 360 feedback to chairs. Chairs can identify anyone they would like to provide feedback. Input is provided anonymously, which protects trainees who might otherwise feel vulnerable giving feedback.
    • Over the next few months, we will spend time deciding what to focus on (e.g., leadership). We will also determine which instrument to use for the survey, which will be administered in 2019.
    • In the fall of this year, we will repeat the Faculty Forward Survey that was offered in 2015. That survey, now renamed the StandPoint survey, had a high response rate and thus provided robust data. As a result, a number of concrete steps were taken. In the lead up to this fall’s survey, we’ll help you to remind your faculty of what was accomplished as a result of the 2015 data.
  • Role of Faculty Diversity Facilitators
    • Thank you for nominating a great group of individuals as diversity facilitators!
    • This year they will be working on cultural change and unconscious bias. They will be using tools to help people recognize biases and how they impact behavior.
    • We are moving forward with the recruitment of a Chief Inclusion and Wellness Officer.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in the BIMS Classroom. 

Visiting Student Program Enjoys Continued Success

The 2016/2017 Visiting Student cohort presenting at the Annual Visiting Student Symposium.

Did you know that under the Visiting Student Program approximately 25 Polish and other Eastern European graduate students come to the University of Virginia every year to work in our labs? Like many of the great things at the University, the program started with a single idea and, over time, has become something remarkable.

This program started nearly two decades ago when Zygmunt Derewenda, PhD, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and Visiting Student Program Director, conferred with a Polish colleague about sending some students across the Atlantic. We know that excellent students can be found everywhere. Sometimes the opportunity just has to present itself. Or, in this case, the opportunity needed to be created. In the first year of the program, a single student came to Charlottesville. More followed. And then even more. Soon, Zygmunt’s colleagues here in the School of Medicine were asking if they, too, could have Polish students work in their labs. The program has since expanded to other countries, most recently admitting students from the Czech Republic and Brazil. Eighteen years later, this program is now an international success.

Since its inception, the program has brought 172 students to UVA and has expanded within the School to all basic science and clinical departments and even across Grounds. The Visiting Student Program fills a real need. The commitment for principal investigators is only one year and this cohort of students arrives incredibly well-trained, experienced, and largely independent, having spent time in labs throughout Europe. While here, they become part of our research and education teams, attend seminars, and work on dedicated projects in the lab. Their work culminates in a one-day symposium where they present their work. In many cases, these students return home to defend their master’s degree and either go on to PhD programs — both here and across the country — or dive into other research ventures. All because of their experience at UVA.

The Visiting Student Program has grown in other ways, too. We now work with three other institutions to place students: University of Chicago, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. The administration of the program in Poland was recently taken over by the Fulbright Commission, which will obtain additional support for students from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. It is our hope that this will attract the very best candidates and that we’ll see a record number of applications in 2018.

While it is amazingly gratifying to see these students help our labs push forward on important research projects, it is equally as wonderful to see them welcomed into our community.

Thank you to all the faculty and staff for their hard work in coordinating, recruiting, and funding this program. It would not be successful without Zygmunt, Dr. Phil Trella, Assistant Vice President for Graduate Studies; Dr. Amy Bouton, Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs; the International Studies Office; Dr. Wladek Minor, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics; Carrie Walker, Graduate Program Administrator; and, of course, the many faculty members who provide mentoring for these visiting students.

Please note: Recruitment is ongoing. This year’s interviews will be held in March. If you are interested, please send a project description to Zygmunt at zsd4n@virginia.edu.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Gerald D. Aurbach Professor of Endocrinology
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research

Are You Ready to Collaborate?

Engineering in Medicine: (l-r) Dr. Jeffrey Holmes, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine; Julie Ann Radlinski, Senior Research Program Officer; and Dr. Mark Sochor, Vice Chair for Research, Emergency Medicine and Medical Director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics

UVA happens to be one of only eight universities in the United States with top schools of Engineering and Medicine separated by less than a mile. Thanks to Jeffrey Holmes, MD, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine; and Mark Sochor, MD, Vice Chair for Research, Emergency Medicine and the Medical Director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics, we are taking advantage of that physical proximity with initiatives like the newly developed Center for Engineering in Medicine.

With money from the Strategic Investment Fund, this center is a joint effort among the Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Nursing and will provide seed funding for research projects.

Collaboration is the name of the game here. Each project will combine clinical teams with engineering teams to innovate. To give you an idea what faculty have already proposed, here is a list of the currently funded projects:

  • Fast and Automatic Reconstruction of High Frame-Rate Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (Weller, Kramer, Salerno)
  • In situ Bioengineering of Scar Formation after Myocardial Infarction (French, Saucerman, Wolf)
  • Airflow-powered Implantables for Batteryless Monitoring of Respiratory Health (Quinn, Lach, Borish)
  • Leveraging mHealth and Wireless Sensing to Empower Patients and Family Caregivers in the Safe and Effective Management of Cancer Pain (Lebaron, Lach, Blackhall)
  • Computational Imaging to Predict Intestinal Mucosal Alterations in Children in Virginia (Syed, Brown)
  • Using mobile technology to monitor and treat depression and anxiety symptoms in caregivers of cancer patients (Gerber, Showalter, Cohn)
  • A Novel Analgesic Device for Pain Management (Li, Xu)
  • Development, Implementation, and Demonstration of a Robotic Gait Simulator (Kerrigan, Park, Cooper, Perumal, Kent, Blemker)

Details on these projects can be found here.

I recommend reading a recently published article on the Engineering in Medicine website (“Initiative Encourages Collaborations Between Engineers and Clinicians”). In it, Jeff, says, “Many of our best weapons in the fight against common diseases, such as pacemakers and stents to treat heart disease or mammography to detect breast cancer, developed at the interface between engineering and medicine. This same interface holds enormous promise to deliver the next generation of advances.”

I couldn’t agree more and look forward to see what innovative technologies the marriage of engineering and medicine will produce.

There will be annual calls for projects and Dr. Steve Wasserman and I will be sending out information for each pilot opportunity. For questions or to receive help in finding a partner for a project idea, please contact engineering-in-medicine@virginia.edu.

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Gerald D. Aurbach Professor of Endocrinology
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research